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Big fat babies are NOT cute!!!


If you weren’t shocked by this week’s announcement from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine about one-fifth of American 4-year-olds being obese, I’m not sure what it would take to freak you out. How about the fact that obese kids are developing type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and musculoskeletal problems (their tiny bodies can’t handle all that weight)?

I’m not a scientist. I’m not a doctor. But I can add. And by putting two and two together, I’ve come up with a plausible hypothesis as to why 1 in 5 four-year-olds in this country are obese.

Dr. Tom Robinson, from the Center for Healthy Weight at Stanford University School of Medicine, commented in a CNN interview, “It’s a very bad sign if we see obesity at a young age. When we see children obese at age 4, we’re likely to see complications – high blood pressure, abnormal lipids – which can lead to heart disease and stroke…”

Take this research and add another new study by Elsie Taveras at Harvard Medical School that shows that fat babies are at an increased risk of becoming obese toddlers and you can’t help but ask yourself if maybe feeding on demand isn’t such a good idea after all.

I know the story, your baby’s rooting. He’s crying. He’s obviously hungry. Never mind the fact that you fed him 20 minutes ago and your nipples are raw and chafed from these absurdly short feeding intervals. Guess what? Rooting is a natural instinct. It doesn’t indicate hunger. And those tears you interpret as a sign that baby wants more food, they’re probably due to reflux. The fact that your baby stops crying when you feed him is likely because it feels good and temporarily stops the reflux. But wait a few minutes after the feed, and the crying will return. I know you want to feed your baby. It feels right. It feels nurturing. But have you ever thought that maybe you’re overfeeding?

Oh no, not you. You’re certain your pudgy, ballooning babe is healthy and happy. He just has an insatiable appetite. Well, the truth is that research shows that babies who gain a lot of weight quickly in the first 6 months of life, are more likely to become part of that new obesity statistic we cited at the top of this page.

Babies need no more than 20 to 30 ounces of milk (breast or formula) during those early months. If you’re a die-hard “feed-on-demand” proponent, do you know how much milk your infant is actually ingesting in a 24 hour period? And frequency matters also. While it’s unpopular to even suggest regimented feeding periods in most mom circles today, there’s a lot of evidence that supports spreading out feedings by at least two to two and a half hours.

I know, you’ve got to go because the little one’s screaming and it’s time to feed again. So I’ll wrap it up by saying; just think about it. Baby fat may be cute, but it’s also a key indicator of toddler obesity, which leads to a host of other serious health issues. Maybe that whole moderation thing isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

9 responses to “Big fat babies are NOT cute!!!

  1. Sandra

    Wow! I’ve nursed four babies “on demand” (when they root, and some of them nursed 10 hours a day early on) and know dozens upon DOZENS of moms do the same – and I’ve never seen an obese baby in the bunch.

    Now, ask me about the people that stick a bottle of formula in a baby’s mouth, or start them on rice cereal at 3 months “because someone said they would {unnaturally} sleep through the night if I did (and found out that was a myth)”, and that’s a different story.

    Babies breastfed on demand – the recommended way to feed – and started on good solids (not carbohydrate-rich pasty cereals, empty calories) only when their little systems are ready (AFTER six months) won’t fall into this category, not because of breastfeeding, that’s for sure.

  2. justthinkingtoo ⋅

    Funny how because we see something in our little world, we can extrapolate it to the entire world. (i.e. I don’t know why anyone would by a ice scrapper because I never see snow here in southern California.).
    So why is it that more mothers are breastfeeding recently as compared to a generation ago, and obesity even in young children has exploded. If Breastfeeding protected these babies, why are so many still fat?

  3. It seems fairly plausible that the obesity starts after the breast or bottle feeding stops and the trips to fast food drive thru lanes become a regular thing.

    This is a very complex issue involving processed foods, marketing crap to children, lack of physical play, and people who aren’t willing to just say “enough”, at any age.

  4. Hannah

    I certainly enjoy reading this blog, Thankyou

  5. Katie

    Hi nice blog 🙂 I can see a lot of effort has been put in.

  6. bob

    I wish I could write this well! great blog thanks.

  7. Christina ⋅

    This is absurd. Breastfed babies will not overeat. Rooting is a sign of hunger and it is a sign of the desire to suck which babies do not out grow for some time. I bet you would advocate replacing the natural act of nursing with a pacifier? I seriously hope this article does not cause new moms to avoid feeding their infants on cue for fear of causing them to be obese. YOUR BREASTFED BABY WILL NOT BE OBESE, IF YOU NURSE ON CUE! The only thing that will lead to is supply issues and another “booby trap” causing women to have trouble breastfeeding and feel like failures. Nice job. Maybe suggest that first foods not include chicken nuggets or French fries from McDonald’s before suggesting that a mother should not follow her infant’s hunger cues.

    Obesity is a huge problem in America, but breastfeeding is a way to combat that and breastfeeding on cue teaches children to eat when they are hungry, not when the clock says it is time to eat. Americans do not eat when they are hungry, If we abolish the ability for children to follow their natural hunger cues, we are only going to add to the obesity epidemic.

  8. Joe ⋅

    wow! you are such a bitch.

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